Seven people who fled the scene of a temple fire caused by an unauthorized firework display which killed more than 100 people in southern India on Sunday surrendered to police on Tuesday morning.
The seven — who are board members of the Puttingal temple in the state of Kerala — were taken into custody after a two-day manhunt, and now face prosecution, police officer Gupakumar told AP.
On Monday, police detained five employees of the firework company contracted to run the display, which erupted at the temple during an end of the year festival attended by thousands. They were later released.
The current death toll for the blaze stands at at least 116, according to AP, with another 380 people injured in what was one of the worst accidents to occur at an Indian religious festival for years.
The district administration said it had not given permission for the display, following noise and pollution complaints, but that the temple had gone ahead regardless after pressure from the large crowd.
It's believed a firework fell into a shed where other fireworks were being stored, causing a massive blaze and leading a building in the temple to collapse.
A judicial inquiry has also been launched.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited the site and spoke to victims of the fire in hospital Sunday, called it "heart-rending & shocking beyond words."
"The incident is so grave that it is very difficult to describe in words," he said. Modi added that victims of the blaze included people who had been up to 200 meters from the centre of the explosions.
"There were body parts on the floor and on the roof there was an arm," resident Anita Prakash told Reuters.
According to the BBC, the collapsed building was the main cause of the fatalities. Images shared by Indian journalists, and reportedly coming from officials, showed what appeared to be rubble and rescue crews.
A team of specialist doctors came in from Delhi to treat the horrific burns suffered by victims of the blast. Several people were said to be in critical condition in hospitals.
Oommen Chandy, Chief Minister of the state of Kerala, tweeted that the fire was a "very sad accident," adding to NDTV that it was "unprecedented." He also said officials will provide aid in the wake of the fire.
The fire erupted after 3 a.m., the AP reported.
The scale of the fire has led to calls for better regulation around festival firework displays. A. V. Jayakrishna, chief of the state unit of the of the Indian Medical Association, said he intended to file a petition to curtail the use of fireworks to the Kerela High Court on Monday.
The incident occurred as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton, were visiting India. They sent their thoughts to all who were assisting the victims, Kensington Palace said in a statement.
The blaze began during a fireworks display. Video purportedly recorded at the the scene showed fireworks and a large plume of smoke.
The hundreds of injured victims were taken to area hospitals, many in critical condition, according to the Indian Express.
Images purportedly from the scene appeared to showed people carrying the victims.
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